Breakfast at Tiffany’s or the Red Carpet With Harry Winston?

Harry Winston
Fiscal 2012 sales:
$412 million
U.S. stores: 8

Tiffany & Co.
Fiscal 2012 sales:
$3.6 billion
U.S. stores: 79

Marilyn Monroe gave shout-outs to both Tiffany & Co. and Harry Winston when she belted out Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend, but from a marketing standpoint, only one brand can wear the crown jewels. As companies, Tiffany and Harry Winston have different ways of operating. Tiffany owns numerous retail shops worldwide. Harry Winston, which owns only a handful of stores, had both mining and retail interests until last January when it sold its luxury items business to Swiss watch manufacturer Swatch Group.

It’s possible that the fluctuations of Harry Winston’s ownership are affecting its ability to deliver a consistent cross-channel marketing strategy. Bhu Bains, digital marketing account director at digital retail agency LiveAreaLabs, sees a David-and-Goliath situation between Harry Winston and Tiffany. She notes that Tiffany seems to have a much wider reach across all its online and traditional channels.

Michael Francis, creative director at LiveAreaLabs, agrees: “When I look at Tiffany, it’s focused on the brand and emotion that [it has] in the store,” he says. He notes the ubiquity of Tiffany’s aquamarine in all its marketing assets—print, online, and even its microsite dedicated to support its 2012 “What Makes Love True” campaign.

Harry Winston, our analysts pointed out, has trouble effectively communicating its overall message. “I was struggling to get a core brand identity from them,” says TJ Bennett, executive creative director at full-service agency INK. Bennett appreciates the quality of Harry Winston’s creative across all channels, but doesn’t understand how any of it fits into a brand story. He points to a recent ad campaign the company ran with a tagline that was both sentimental but opaque: “Live the Moment.”

“That sounds like it might mean something, but it didn’t pay off in the work,” Bennett says. “It’s not mixed messages—it’s that I didn’t know what the message is.”

But Steve Bagby, the chief creative officer at direct marketing solutions company SG360°, sees a company trying to convey prestige and privilege. “Harry Winston needs to make [its marketing assets] more exclusive,” he argues. The website, he says, needs to ratchet up the sense of pedigree. “It’s certainly informational about the brand, but

someone who would buy jewels at Harry Winston wouldn’t buy online,” he says. But neither brand fielded an enticing website. Bennett points out that both the Tiffany and Harry Winston websites looked as if they were built from the same template, each following the giant-image-beneath-a-menu-bar school of Web design.

The problem with these concepts is that they fail to connect browsers emotionally to the brand and fail to replicate the in-store experience. “The construct of the pages [on both sites] seem dated,” Francis says. He recommends a redesign: The top of the page should have the emotional greeting. As visitors scroll down, they’re introduced to the actual product. He feels both websites cram too much above the fold.

Harry Winston’s “Shop Online” tab (the one Bagby believes the company’s target audience would disdain using) does a better job utilizing the page’s real estate, though Francis feels that Tiffany does a better job promoting its brand messaging around love and getting it across using photography. Of the two, he feels that Tiffany creates a superior branded experience via its ubiquitous blue and the storytelling in its photography.

Ultimately, it’s this emotion that distinguishes Tiffany from Harry Winston. While Tiffany caters to a high-end market, it’s not quite as inaccessible as Harry Winston, whose products are often featured prominently around the necks of female actors and singers at events like the Oscars or Grammy Awards. Tiffany’s brand, however, focuses on finding and holding onto love. While Harry Winston has a “Love Madly” tagline on its website, it doesn’t go all in with this theme; its photos still feature bejeweled but, ultimately, single women. By contrast Tiffany’s marketing campaign “What Makes Love True” appealed greatly to every creative talent interviewed. The campaign includes a website with images and videos of couples, as well as their love stories, a mobile app, and a map of the New York metropolitan area that allows users to tag where something romantic happened to them.

For example, consider this comment from a couple identified as LG+NP: “NP lives here, and this is where we share our most amazing moments. <3”

“The concept is amazing and they could do so much more with it,” LiveAreaLabs’ Bains says. Although she has quibbles with the microsite design (“it looks like it can use an update”), she applauds its curatorial approach, adding narrative to each couple’s story.

“What Tiffany should do is carry that through with the other areas [of its marketing channels],” Bains says. This includes expanding the map to areas beyond New York and incorporating the concept into Tiffany’s comparatively staid main website. Bains adds that the love stories should be surfaced on Tiffany’s various social media presences, which the company currently uses mostly to talk up product. Like Harry Winston, which has a mostly obligatory social media presence, the romance and human engagements are missing.

“That’s what people are buying when they buy Tiffany,” INK’s Bennett adds. “It’s about what you make someone feel when you buy that brand. They can hook both men and women with that very strongly. The romance is a big deal.”

But romance died hard for Bennett when he watched the video ads featured on its YouTube page. The matter-of-fact voiceover used in the ads doesn’t live up to the brand story, he says. When he watched the videos with his wife, he says, they might as well have been watching a National Geographic documentary or a high school health class video. “[They’re] very unromantic,” he says. “I thought they’d get more romance into their video, but they’re talking to themselves more than the consumer with the video content.”

He gave Harry Winston’s videos the upper hand, calling the main video on its YouTube website a “beautiful piece.” However, he has a caveat that echoes his criticism of the brand’s overall marketing: “I’m not sure what it’s saying other than the thing is about beauty,” Bennett says. “Still, it’s a little over a minute long and I wanted to watch it all the way through. The visuals were enticing, the music was nice, and it showed off the product. They did a god job from an image standpoint.”

Others were more neutral on the videos. Bagby, for instance, thought both the Tiffany and Harry Winston videos were well made and did an adequate job conveying the attitudes of each store—which were also reflected in each brand’s respective print art. Harry Winston had a darker palette, which better conveys its elitism. Tiffany’s lighter colors were more inviting. If there’s one area that generated complete apathy from all panelists, it was email. Bennett signed up and immediately got a welcome email from

Harry Winston, with a message that aesthetically reflected its online store. He received nothing from Tiffany. But more important, neither brand incented customers to sign up for email communications. After all, when most inboxes are already overflowing with marketing messages, why should one bother getting on a jeweler’s list? For Bains, this is a missed opportunity. “It’s a highly undervalued channel, and there are a lot of stats about how email is one of the biggest drivers of online traffic and yet there’s no focus on [the email sign-up] page,” she says. “There’s nothing that tells the shopper why they should sign up for it.

Brand Champion

Breakfast at Tiffany’s it is. While the brand seems to be divided into two entities (boring and corporate versus highly engaging campaigns like “What Makes Love True”), the jeweler is simply better at creating an emotional response than Harry Winston. Despite Harry Winston’s attempt to focus on love with its “Love Madly” tagline, Tiffany has dominated this theme for a long time. And this drives a more engaging marketing message than Harry Winston’s traditional messages around exclusivity.

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